Speeches 2004





Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Your Excellency,
Distinguished Rector, Dear Students,

I am delighted with your visit to Rome for study and information in the context of following up the contacts established several years ago between the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at whose headquarters is located the Institute for Higher Studies of Orthodox Theology, and the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration which is part of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. I remember with gratitude my Visit to the Centre and the long and effective collaboration with its first Director, Metropolitan Damaskinos. You are welcomed with joy to this city of Rome, and I hope that the spiritual dimension of your visit and your encounter with the great tradition of faith, nourished by the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, will enable you to discover all that we share in our 1,000-year old endeavours to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.

Your visit will also give you the opportunity to meet those in charge of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as well as other Dicasteries of the Holy See and the Pontifical Universities. These different interviews encourage mutual knowledge. Thus, the "time for meeting and sharing the gifts of each one on the basis of a mutual objective knowledge and deep familiarity" (Audience with the Members of the Management Council of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration with the Churches of the East, 18 January 2003; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 29 January, p. 5), will be ever more clearly discerned.

This, your Institute's first visit to Rome "for study and information", coincides with the 40th anniversary of the historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem. I thank the Lord who made a gift to his Church of this marvellous witness of brotherhood, and I encourage you to work to make the commitment assumed in the Land of the Lord a firm duty for everyone. In this same spirit, I rejoice in the visit to Rome of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew. It is a new landmark in the dialogue of charity, whose dawn was so clearly portrayed in Jerusalem. You may rest assured of the sentiments of friendship with which the Bishop of Rome welcomes you and asks God to pour out upon you an abundance of his Blessings.

                                                            July 2004





"Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love" (1Co 16,13-14).

1. In the spirit of faith in Christ and the reciprocal love that unites us, we thank God for this gift of our new meeting that is taking place on the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and witnesses to our firm determination to continue on our way towards full communion with one another in Christ.

2. Many positive steps have marked our common journey, starting above all with the historical event that we are recalling today: the embrace of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, on 5 and 6 January 1964. We, their Successors, are meeting today to commemorate fittingly before God that blessed encounter, now part of the history of the Church, faithfully recalling it and its original intentions.

3. The embrace in Jerusalem of our respective Predecessors of venerable memory visibly expressed a hope that dwells in all hearts, as the Communiqué declared: "With eyes turned to Christ, together with the Father, the Archetype and Author of unity and of peace, they pray God that this encounter may be the sign and prelude of things to come for the glory of God and the enlightenment of his faithful people. After so many centuries of silence, they have now met with the desire to do the Lord's will and to proclaim the ancient truth of his Gospel, entrusted to the Church" (Common Declaration of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, Tomos Agapis, Vatican-Phanar, 1971, n. 50, p. 120).

4. Unity and Peace! The hope kindled by that historic encounter has lit up our journey in these last decades. Aware that the Christian world has suffered the tragedy of separation for centuries, our Predecessors and we ourselves have persevered in the "dialogue of charity", our gaze turned to that blessed, shining day on which it will be possible to communicate with the same cup of the precious Blood and the holy Body of the Lord (cf. Patriarch Athenagoras I, Address to Pope Paul VI [5 January 1964], ibid., n. 48, p. 109). The many ecclesial events that have punctuated these past years have put on firm foundations the commitment to brotherly love: a love which, in learning from past lessons, may be ready to forgive, more inclined to believe in good than in evil and intent first and foremost on complying with the Divine Redeemer and in being attracted and transformed by him (Address of Pope Paul VI to Patriarch Athenagoras I [6 January 1964], ibid., n. 49, p. 117).

5. Let us thank the Lord for the exemplary gestures of reciprocal love, participation and sharing that he has granted us to make; among them, it is only right to recall the Pope's Visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios in 1979, when the creation of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and all the Orthodox Churches was announced at the Phanar, a further step to sustain the "dialogue of truth" with the "dialogue of charity"; Patriarch Dimitrios' visit to Rome in 1987; our meeting in Rome on the feast of Sts Peter and Paul in 1995, when we prayed in St Peter's, despite the painful separation during the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, since we cannot yet drink from the same chalice of the Lord. Then, more recently, there was the meeting at Assisi for the "Day of Prayer for Peace in the World", and the Common Declaration on Environmental Ethics for the Safeguard of Creation, signed on 10 June 2002 [in the context of the Fourth Symposium on Ecology: The Adriatic Sea: a Sea at Risk - Unity of Purpose].

6. Despite our firm determination to journey on towards full communion, it would have been unrealistic not to expect obstacles of various kinds: doctrinal, first of all, but also the result of conditioning by a troubled history. In addition, the new problems which have emerged from the radical changes that have occurred in political and social structures have not failed to make themselves felt in relations between the Christian Churches. With the return to freedom of Christians in Central and Eastern Europe, old fears have also been reawakened, making dialogue difficult. Nonetheless, St Paul's exhortation to the Corinthians: let all things be done in charity, must always be vibrant within us and between us.

7. The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and all the Orthodox Churches, created with so much hope, has marked our progress in recent years. It is still a suitable instrument for studying the ecclesiological and historical problems that are at the root of our difficulties, and for identifying hypothetical solutions to them. It is our duty to persevere in the important commitment to reopen the work as soon as possible. In examining the reciprocal initiatives of the offices of Rome and of Constantinople with this in view, we ask the Lord to sustain our determination, and to convince everyone of how essential it is to pursue the "dialogue of truth".

8. Our meeting in Rome today also enables us to face certain problems and misunderstandings that have recently surfaced. The long experience of the "dialogue of charity" comes to our aid precisely in these circumstances, so that difficulties can be faced serenely without slowing or clouding our progress on the journey we have undertaken towards full communion in Christ.

9. Before a world that is suffering every kind of division and imbalance, today's encounter is intended as a practical and forceful reminder of the importance for Christians and for the Churches to coexist in peace and harmony, in order to witness in agreement to the message of the Gospel in the most credible and convincing way possible.

10. In the special context of Europe, moving in the direction of higher forms of integration and expansion towards the East of the Continent, we thank the Lord for this positive development and express the hope that in this new situation, collaboration between Catholics and Orthodox may grow. There are so many challenges to face together in order to contribute to the good of society: to heal with love the scourge of terrorism, to instil a hope of peace, to help set aright the multitude of grievous conflicts; to restore to the European Continent the awareness of its Christian roots; to build true dialogue with Islam, since indifference and reciprocal ignorance can only give rise to diffidence and even hatred; to nourish an awareness of the sacred nature of human life; to work to ensure that science does not deny the divine spark that every human being receives with the gift of life; to collaborate so that our earth may not be disfigured and that Creation may preserve the beauty with which it has been endowed by God; but above all, to proclaim the Gospel Message with fresh vigour, showing contemporary men and women how the Gospel can help them rediscover themselves and to build a more human world.

11. Let us pray to the Lord to give peace to the Church and to the world, and to imbue our journey towards full communion with the wisdom of his Spirit, "ut unum in Christo simus" [so that we may be one in Christ].

From the Vatican, 29 June 2004




Thursday, 1 July 2004

Your Holiness,

As your appreciated visit to Rome for the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul draws to a close, I would like to express to you once again my most cordial gratitude. For three days, accompanied by a highly qualified entourage composed, moreover, of several eminent Metropolitans whom I greet once again, you left the Phanar in the Patriarchal See of Constantinople to be close to the Successor of Peter. Let us thank God together, because in this way he has enabled us to give the faithful a vivid sign of brotherhood and to confirm our resolution to progress with determination towards the goal of full unity between Catholics and Orthodox. There is a great need for these signs of communion as well as of words to accompany and explain them, such as those we subscribed to in a Common Declaration are intended to be.

Another important event of these days is a cause of special joy to me: to have had the opportunity to grant to the Ecumenical Patriarchate the use of the Church of San Teodoro al Palatino in the heart of ancient Rome. This will allow the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Italy to have a significant and continuing presence close to the tomb of the Apostle Peter.

All this, as we know, is a gift of God. And it is a fine thing for brothers to live together in common gratitude to the One who is the "Father of lights" from whom descends "every good endowment and every perfect gift" (Jc 1,17).

I warmly thank you, Your Holiness, and each one of the members of your venerable entourage. As we remember these days of grace and today's festive meeting, let us remain in communion through prayer and fraternal charity.



Saturday, 3 July 2004

Venerable Brother in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to extend a cordial greeting to you on the occasion of this courteous visit. Your agreeable presence puts me in mind of the two Visits I paid to your fine city. Welcome!

I gladly reciprocate your sentiments and greet you, Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli, the new Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo, who recently received the Metropolitans Pallium from my hands. I greet you, Mr Mayor, who represent the inhabitants of the capital of the Picene region who are so dear to me. I greet everyone present. In addressing you, I would also like to extend my thoughts to your fellow citizens; I warmly hope that they will be faithful to their ancient and noble moral, spiritual and civil traditions.

You have come just over a year after commemorating, with the "Song of peace" project, the damage your city sustained in the last world war and the tenacity of your people in the work of reconstruction. You have chosen to commemorate the drama of the war with the prayer I said at Assisi in January 2002 when, together with the representatives of the religions, we celebrated the Day of Prayer for Peace in the World.

As I express the hope that each one will be able to do his or her own part in fostering the fundamental good of peace, I entrust you to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Cyriac and St Leopold, the Patrons of your city, and cordially impart my Blessing to you all.



Saturday, 3 July 2004

Dear Friends,

1. I cordially greet the teachers, educators and parents here representing universities and pedagogical associations, as well as those in charge of the pastoral apostolate in schools and universities that the Episcopal Conferences of Europe provide. I thank Bishop Cesare Nosiglia, President of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, Schools and Universities of the Italian Bishops' Conference, for his words and his dedication in organizing the Symposium entitled: The challenges of education.

2. I am delighted with your attention to educational issues that are particularly important in Europe today, when many young people are in a state of confusion. In their educational policies, States are struggling to find new approaches for dealing with the problems of adolescents in their personal lives or in their social milieu. Financial needs often induce people to give priority to academic learning, to the detriment of the integral education of the young. To give youth a future, it is important that education be understood as a search for the integral and harmonious development of the person, as the maturation of the moral conscience to discern good and act accordingly, and as attention to the spiritual dimension of young people as they develop. The European Continent has been enriched by a humanist tradition that has communicated down the centuries spiritual and moral values whose fundamental reference and full meaning are found in its Christian roots.

3. Wherever students live, education must help them each day to grow into more and more mature men and women, and "to be" better rather than "to have" more. Scholastic formation is one aspect of education, but not the only one. The essential connection between all the dimensions of education must be constantly reinforced. A coordinated educational process will lead to ever greater unity in the personality and life of adolescents.

It is right to mobilize everyone and to join forces to work for young people: parents, teachers, educators, chaplaincy teams. They should all also remember that what they teach must be supported by their own witness and example. In fact, young people are sensitive to the witness of adults who are their models. The family continues to be the essential place for education.

4. The lack of hope in the youth of today is blatant; yet it conceals within it a whole range of aspirations, as I have come to understand especially during the World Youth Days. In my Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europe, I noted that "at the root of the loss of hope is an attempt to promote a vision of man apart from God and apart from Christ", making man occupy the place of God. "Forgetfulness of God led to the abandonment of man" (n. 9). True education must start from the truth about man, the affirmation of his dignity and transcendent vocation. Looking at every young person in this anthropological perspective means seeking to help him develop the best of himself so that in exercising all his skills he may carry out whatever God calls him to do.

5. The Christian community also plays a role in the educational process. It is responsible for passing on the Christian values and making known Christ as a person who calls each one to a more and more beautiful life and to the discovery of the salvation and happiness that he offers us. May Christians never shrink from proclaiming to the new generations Christ, the source of hope and light on their journey! May they also be able to welcome teenagers and their families, to listen to them and help them, even if this may often be very demanding! It is the business of all Christian communities and of society as a whole to educate the young. It is up to us to present the essential values to them, so that they themselves may be responsible for them and do their share in building up society. I hope that your Symposium will give new dynamism to the educational process in the various European countries, and as I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.




To the illustrious
Prof. Pier Ugo Calzolari
Rector Magnificent of the University of Bologna

With deep gratitude I accept the tribute of the University of Bologna, which on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of my Pontificate, has wished to confer upon me the Sigillum Magnum of the Alma Mater Studiorum. I am especially honoured by this esteemed recognition, considering that the Athenaeum of Bologna is one of the oldest and most famous in the world. The university environment and the young students especially have always had a privileged place in my pastoral concern. As a priest and a Bishop I enthusiastically expended great energy on them. Later, as Bishop of Rome I have not missed meeting the academic communities on every suitable occasion, not only in Rome and in Italy, but also during my Apostolic Journeys.

Broadening the horizon even more, I like to think that this attestation of esteem is motivated by the spiritual attention I have paid to culture and to its fundamental importance for the advancement of human beings and the progress of history. "Genus humanum arte et ratione vivit": [the human race lives by art and reason], as I had the opportunity to say in 1980 in Paris, in my Address to the members of UNESCO (2 June 1980, n. 17; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 23 June 1980, p. 11), I repeat to you now, Rector Magnificent, addressing in spirit the entire community of the Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna. There is an inseparable reciprocity between the education of the human being and culture: indeed, if a human being is educated by the quality of the culture in which he or she lives, it is also true that the value of culture is measured by its ability to enable men and women to develop in accordance with their exalted vocation, that is, to help them become more and more fully human (cf. ibid.,n. 11, p. 10).

Therefore, as I renew the expression of my gratitude for the Sigillum Magnum award, which I will always treasure as a rare document of the bonds that bind me to the university world, I encourage you and the entire Academic Senate to ensure that scientific and cultural activity is always motivated by a sincere passion for the human being, and ordered to his harmonious and integral advancement. To this end, I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer, and very gladly invoke upon you, the Professors and the students of the University of Bologna an abundance of heavenly blessings.

From the Vatican, 3 July 2004






To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

I was pleased to be informed of the international seminar on "Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development, including the Millennium Development Goals", which is taking place on Friday 9 July 2004 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In extending my heartfelt greetings to Your Eminence, to government representatives and to other distinguished participants present in Rome for this occasion, I should like to assure you of my prayers and encouragement for this most important work.

The conditions of extreme poverty afflicting many millions of people are a cause of grave concern to the international community. The Church, committed to a "preferential option for the poor", naturally shares in that concern and strongly supports the Millennium goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by the year 2015. Through the many Catholic aid and development agencies she makes her own contribution to relief efforts, thereby continuing the work of Christ himself, who came to bring good news to the poor, to feed the hungry, to serve and not to be served. What is needed now is a new "creativity" in charity (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 50) so that ever more effective ways may be found of achieving a more just distribution of the world’s resources.

Much work has already been done to reduce the burden of debt afflicting poor countries, but more is needed if developing nations are to escape from the crippling effects of underinvestment and if developed countries are to fulfil their duty of solidarity with their less fortunate brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. In the short to medium term, a commitment to increase foreign aid seems the only way forward, and the Church therefore welcomes the search for innovative solutions, such as the International Finance Facility. She also encourages other initiatives being sponsored in many parts of the world both by various organizations of the United Nations and by individual governments. At the same time, financial support from wealthy nations places an obligation on the receiver to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the use made of such assistance. I am confident that the governments of rich and poor countries alike will take seriously their responsibilities towards each other and towards their people.

Trusting that your important discussions will bear abundant fruit, I invoke the light of the Lord upon all who are participating in this seminar and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 5 July 2004





To the Very Reverend Father Giorgio Nalin

Superior General of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus

1. Most Reverend Father, I greet you with joy and affection, together with your Confreres as they gather with you for the Tenth General Chapter of your Congregation that is still celebrating the recent canonization of its Founder, St Hannibal Mary Di Francia.

Everyone cherishes vivid memories of last 16 May. On that morning, I had the joy, before a vast and intensely fervent crowd, of adding to the roll of Saints the one I had described as a "renowned apostle of prayer for vocations and true father of orphans and the poor". His charism now shines with new light for all. Fr Hannibal is a radiant intercessor and model, whose living presence with the Merciful Father gives to the prayer of hearts renewed confidence that their plea is heard, especially with regard to the invitation to pray that Christ himself addresses to us: "Rogate!" [pray] (Mt 9,38).

2. "Rogate!". It was this exhortation of the Lord which, from the years of his youth, enraptured and transformed the keen mind and ardent heart of St Hannibal Mary: "Messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci. Rogate ergo Dominum messis ut mittat operarios in messem suam" (Mt 9,37-38 Lc 10,2). Your Founder saw in Jesus' words a precise programme for life and action. The Rogationists' mission is based entirely on the programme suggested by the word: "Rogate". In response to this imperative, the gaze of faith contemplating the harvest becomes a prayer that the Lord will send out plenty of labourers.

This mission is particularly timely at the beginning of the third millennium, and requires good, hard-working apostles among whom you yourselves must and ought to be the first. It is right, therefore, that you should wish to rediscover and revive your charism, attentively analyzing the needs of the Church and the world in the light of Jesus' perennial teaching on the fundamental importance of prayer.

3. "Messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci". Today, the harvest to which we are sent out appears more plentiful than ever. The "global village" that our planet has become, confined by the communications network and political, economic and social interests that are often at variance, feels an urgent need of workers of reconciliation, witnesses of the Truth that saves and builders of the one true and lasting peace, founded on justice and forgiveness.

Then, if we shift our gaze to scrutinize the depths of hearts, the desire and expectation of the life that comes from on High appear to us broader and deeper. As we face these huge, urgent needs, our own strength proves inadequate."Operarii autem pauci". Considering the needs of the poor neighbourhood where he had chosen to live and work, Avignone di Messina, the question St Hannibal felt the most keenly, as did the disciples facing the hungry crowds, challenges our own feelings too: "where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?" (Mt 15,33).

The bread of justice and peace can only come from on High: this is why the most fundamental of all needs is the need for "labourers", of which Jesus speaks, men and women who spare no efforts in transmitting the Word of life to the world, calling hearts to conversion, offering the divine gift of Grace to build bridges of solidarity and conditions of justice in which every human life can express itself with dignity.

4. "Rogate ergo Dominum messis ut mittat operarios in messem suam". With these words Jesus shows us what to do in response to the immensity of the task that lies before us. First of all we should pray: "Rogate ergo!". Prayer is the fertile root and essential nourishment of every action intended to be effective for the Kingdom of God. It is by praying that we will obtain workers from the Lord to till the ground, plough the furrows, scatter the seed, watch over its growth and harvest the mature ears of wheat. By praying, we will rediscover the primacy of the contemplative dimension of life and obtain the strength of faith that conquers the world. Today, after the fall of the totalitarian ideologies of the modern era, faith appears ever more clearly as an anchor of salvation that we need more urgently than ever.

"Rogate": with this invitation, Jesus asks that our whole life become a prayer and that this prayer give life to credible witnesses to Christ who are in love with him and his Gospel. Praying for good workers means seeking to be good workers, constantly adapting the choices of our hearts and our daily activities to the demands of following Christ. The call to the universal vocation of holiness that I wanted to propose once again in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (cf. nn. 30-31) rings out in particularly clear tones for the apostles of the "Rogate", whose mission is to spend themselves without reserve as humble and faithful workers at the service of the coming of God's Kingdom, praying daily for vocations, spreading this prayerful spirit everywhere and promoting all vocations.

5. Dear Rogationists, the Church and the world expect of you renewed fidelity to the charism of the apostles of the "Rogate" that distinguishes you. Live the joy of your vocation, therefore, with all the passion that the Spirit kindles in your hearts and do not let the People of God and of all humanity be deprived of what the Redeemer himself asked for: "Rogate!".

Spare no effort in working for the temporal and spiritual good of your neighbour, after the example of your Father Founder, through the education and sanctification of boys and young men, evangelization, human promotion and assistance to the poorest of the poor (cf. Constitutions, n. 5). By your attentive proclamation of the Gospel to the young generations, you know that you are serving the cause for which your life becomes prayer and deserves to be spent.

May the commitment to evangelization, from the first proclamation to catechesis, combined with generous service to the weakest, especially children and young people who have no family or educational support, be both your daily concern and the concrete, active and faithful way in which you prepare the ground so that the seeds of vocations which the Lord generously sows so the harvest may flourish in response to your convinced and faithful prayers.

Missionary zeal is an intrinsic part of the identity of apostles of the "Rogate!". Contemplation of the "plentiful harvest" and the "labourers" who are "few", cannot but open the heart to the desire for the universal evangelization of peoples. So it was that from the outset your holy Founder wanted his sons to be attentive and available for the missio ad gentes.

6. I pray for the assistance of the Holy Spirit in the discernment you are carrying out in your Chapter sessions and in the decisions that will result.

May the Virgin Mother Mary, tenderly loved by St Hannibal Mary Di Francia, be the star of your renewed missionary outreach at the beginning of the new millennium. May she, the Virgo fidelis, obtain for you fidelity in listening, intensity of faith, perseverance in prayer and the inclination for inner silence and contemplation of God.

May the Mother of Fair Love sustain you in the exercise of your daily apostolate. May St Hannibal, a wonderful example of total dedication to the cause of the "Rogate", intercede for you!

With these hopes, I cordially impart my Blessing to you, dear Father, and to your Confreres who are taking part in the Chapter. I willingly extend it to the Daughters of Divine Zeal who share your charism and are also about to begin their own General Chapter, to the lay people inspired by your spirituality and your mission, and all those whom they benefit, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

From the Vatican, 26 June 2004





Les Combes, Valle d'Aosta

Saturday, 17 July 2004

Before leaving this enchanting place where I have spent a period of invigorating rest, I feel the need to address my deepest thanks to you, Mr Mayor, to the Municipal Administration and to the entire Town Council of Introd for your cordial welcome to me and my collaborators.

I extend these sentiments of gratitude to those who have cooperated in their various capacities to ensure that my stay here in Les Combes, among the mountains of the Valle d'Aosta, would go smoothly.

I am now preparing to leave for Castel Gandolfo, cherishing in my mind and heart the memory of all the care I have received. I feel deeply grateful to you too, for everything. I ask the Lord, whose omnipotent providence is strikingly visible in this Alpine scenery, to continue to protect the communities and administrators of Introd. Very dear brothers and sisters, may the Madonnina of Gran Paradiso watch over you from this mountain top. For my part, I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer, as I bless you all, each and every one.




Les Combes, Valle d'Aosta

Saturday, 17 July 2004

I will shortly be returning to Rome, and before taking my leave of these places, let me repeat the expression of my most cordial sentiments, dear Directors, Officials and Agents of the State Police, the Carabinieri, the Fiscal Police, the Penitentiary Police and the Forest Guard. During these days you have been my "guardian angels", who efficiently and discreetly saw to the success of my stay in the Valle d'Aosta. I warmly thank you for doing so. My heartfelt thanks also to you, dear Directors and Agents of the Vatican Police, always diligent in fulfilling your duty.

I will cherish vivid memories of the period I have spent here in Les Combes, and of the peaceful atmosphere that you too contributed to preserving in the vicinity of this cottage and in the neighbouring localities. I deeply appreciated your service that is far from easy. I am well aware of the sacrifice, effort and self-denial it involves, and I have noted the great competence and generosity with which you carry it out. May God reward you and help you always with his heavenly protection. I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer, for yourselves and for your families, as I bless you all with affection.

Speeches 2004